Where were the pastors?

empty-seat-at-the-table.jpg I just returned from a meeting of community leaders and agencies that work with children and youth in our community.  About 18 people were there including the superintendents of both the city and county schools, and representatives from Social Services, Community Action, Habitat for Humanity, our local community college, Boys and Girls Club leadership, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and others.

The chairperson noted those in attendance, and commented.  “I also invited several local pastors, but I see none of them here.”  (I was invited as representative of the new community center in our town.)

My question is — “Where were the pastors?”  Why wouldn’t a pastor consider a joint meeting of every child advocacy group in our area a good thing to attend?  I know it’s Holy Week, but I made time to attend with more than a week’s notice, so I’m sure others could have also.  If we as pastors are not willing to sit at the table with others in our community to solve our common problems and share a common vision, how will we win a world?

What do you think?  Would you attend a meeting like this?  If not, why not?  Maybe there’s something I’m missing here, and if so, I’d like to know what it is.

9 thoughts on “Where were the pastors?”

  1. Chuck,

    Strange that the chairperson had to point that out to everyone. Besides, it sounds as if the bases were covered what with all the other advocacy groups present and accounted for.

    Personally, I wouldn’t attend because it’s not my job or my calling. I am called to shepherd the flock of Christ, not run the entire community, nor do I feel like I have to be involved in every single group that exists. That said, I also work part time at our local junior high school for two and a half hours per day, five days per week. I prefer the teaching children and not just advocating for them. I am also highly involved in Scouts and Little League baseball. I would much rather be involved in the lives of children, in their world, instead of sitting around a table talking about them. Maybe this is part of the case with some of those who didn’t attend. ???

    I am also a small church preacher. I appreciate your thoughts, but on this one I think you might be a little harsh. There’s no telling what circumstances precluded or prevented these other invited pastors from attending.

    Anyhow, thanks for the post.

    small church preacher in Ohio

  2. Jerry, thanks for your comments. The problem with blogging is you can’t always indicate the tone of a quote. The chairperson was simply stating that others had been invited (pastors, specifically), but they were not present. He wasn’t judging, just stating. So, the angst about this is all mine. Your viewpoint may be shared by other pastors, and I commend your direct involvement with kids at school and in other activities. I take a different approach in trying to work with other civic leaders on a broad range of issues, which I consider part of my calling. So, we have an honest difference of perspective, which is why I asked the question, Am I missing something here? Thanks for showing me what I’m missing, at least from your perspective. Glad you like the blog sometimes, and I hope you’ll be back. — Chuck

  3. I have noticed that some Christians including our previous pastor feel that if something isn’t specifically Christian we should be involved with it. As a result some in the community perceive churches as out of touch or irrelevant. Our church as a reputation of being uncaring because the previous pastor would not allow the church to participate in anything that wasn’t specifically Baptist & openly evangelistic. I believe we as Christians need to be involved with our community as well.

  4. As a pastor AND worker for a state related agency, I have seen this from two angles.

    To be sure, this varies by community. Rural communities are less likely to face these issues, but still they are present.

    1) I am highly skeptical of the motives of any state agency. For example, when the “faith based initiatives” came in supposedly, they were fought tooth and nail inside the bureaucracies because they were deathly afraid that someone, somewhere might be exposed to “religion”. When their budgets get low and they have to ask for help, they always tell the staff to hit up the churches for “mentors” and volunteers. That’s right out of the agency playbooks. Yes, they want churches to provide volunteers and bodies and resources to prop up “Caesar’s” failed programming but these volunteers must “shut up” to play. It’s a form of tokenism. And many pastors find themselves torn between wanting to help and actually wondering if their help will undermine the Gospel. For example, all the public schools are “crying” for mentors from churches. But at the same time if a mentor went against what’s “politically correct” the truth comes out quickly… they don’t want our help as partners just as pawns. And speaking of this, as I pastor, I never had input to the timing of the meeting… I was just told “when to show up”…. invariably with little notice.

    2) Sadly, most churches and pastors have no idea how to provide a relevant service because they have as Dee suggests a truncated view of evangelism. Most of these services you’re talking about only exist because of the diaconal and teaching ministries of the church which were usurped and secularized. We have, in this sense, sold our birthright for less than a bowl of soup!

  5. Hey, TN, thanks for your comments. Yeah, I’m sure agencies have their own agendas, and I have also gotten the feeling at times that I was the token pastor in the room. And, I agree that most of us pastors don’t understand the legalities or the scope of service providing. We tend to do this on a project basis, rather than as on-going program. But, I still think we need a place at the table, to learn, if nothing else. But, maybe I was too harsh in my judgment here. All of you have given me some things to think about. Thanks for stopping by. -Chuck

  6. You also have to ask how many pastors who were “notified” are

    1. Bivocational and can’t take off for every meeting someone schedules or

    2. Have night meetings which would require them to be gone from 9 AM till 10 PM … none of these bureaucrats is scheduling meetings after 3:30 pm unless absolutely necessary I’ll guarantee you.

    Hang around the bureaucrats enough, and you’ll find they’re on a project by project basis too lurching from one “bold new initiative” to another.

  7. Stumbled on this post while surfing for sermon seeds for a funeral sermon on Matthew 11:25-30. I understand the issue of not being able to be everywhere as a pastor. But, I know pastors who talk about living faith everyday with neighbors and then only leave their study to only visit the already saved. Personally, I feel if I am going to ask folks to serve the community, I must do that also. Yes, “bureaucrats” have their “issues.” But, if we as pastors do not engage them we are abdicating our call to the community and not letting our voice be heard in the “halls of power” by default.

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